With the daily grind forcing many of us into poor posture, how we direct our active daily mobility efforts ultimately impacts our ability to lift pain free and injury free. The ELDOA Method is a series of taught, self-applied postural exercises that improve in functional joint mechanics for any type of athlete. With the primary goal of applying focused internal tension and load to reduce pressures on the spine discs, improve blood flow, and reduce back pain; the goals of improved posture and wellbeing are truly but a pose away.
This article will break down the following topics:
- Why is spinal posture important for the lifter.
- The individuality of posture and movement in the world of resistance training.
- The mass amounts of benefits of having “good” posture.
- Improved breathing, cardiovascular and body blood flow, nervous system function, strength utilization, power output, and quality of life.
- What is ELDOA?
Designed by French osteopath Guy Voyer DO, the ELDOA (Etirements Longitudinaux avec Decoaptition Osteo-Articulaire utilize myofascial stretching to put tension around a primary lesion making it the center of “separating forces.” The myofascial tension solicits a postural normalization in a specific joint resulting in numerous benefits.
Why Spinal Posture Is Important For The Athlete
Built through centuries of battling the forces of gravity, the human body is an engineering marvel. With bones that can take and deliver over thousands of pounds of force, to soft tissues that have chiseled away our place as the dominant hunter gather; we are as much familiar with stress as any diamond is formed out of a coal.
We are the product of our learned failed successes, and this couldn’t be truer when we discuss posture and the world of resistance training.
Born out of a need to compete, resistance training has and will always be an expression of one’s self determination, grit, dedication and mastery. The best of the best are not always the most gifted but those who are willing to fail in pursuit of excellence. As a lifter and member of this FHT Family, your willingness to progress will be met by your deliberate attention to be your best and most importantly to move at your best.
Movement performance and proficiency is dictated by posture. Whether used to communicate dominance or to move a heavy load, posture and how we practice it, will shape the outcome of a lifespan of health.
It’s an old story I hear often, “I once used to be strong, but through years of heavy weight lifting I beat myself up”. What I always find fascinating is the honest most people are when realizing that part of their current struggle was their own doing.
We have all met or are even one of those people today, and for lack of knowing when to quit or truly seeking to build a higher quality of life through fitness and resistance training, you are here ready to learn.
The Benefit of “Good” Posture
With sitting being now the new smoking, it’s obvious that we need to move better and move more often. But what about active people who resistance train on a regular basis? What is good posture going to do for them?
Well it all boils down to performance and gains. With improved posture while under load, one can drastically increase force production leading to safer PR’s. Equally, making muscle hypertrophy gains is largely dictated on proper form execution; with posture being a large limiting factor for many.
If we take a look at what practicing good posture on a regular basis does for health in general we can find that improved ventilation (breathing), cardiovascular and body blood flow, nervous system function, strength utilization, and power output, all equate to a better quality of life.
What is ELDOA & How Do You Apply These Methods?
ELDOA or translated to english, meaning LOAD, was designed by French osteopath Guy Voyer DO. The ELDOA (Etirements Longitudinaux avec Decoaptition Osteo-Articulaire) utilizes myofascial networks of tissue to put tension “separating forces” on specific joints of the body to affect postural normalization. Although these are stretches, they are not like your traditional stretch.
So how does ELDOA work?
ELDOA consists of multiple postures/positions that maximize fascial tension. This is accomplished by first stabilizing one part of the body and then moving another in a stepwise progression. Most postures will have 4 transitions that progressively increase fascial tension and cause decoaptation at the desired spinal level.
Decoaptation: is the terminology used to describe reduction in compression forces at a joint, which is the primary purpose of ELDOA.
Fascia: a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing a muscle or other organ, which is the “connecting” piece that allows for tensegrity in the body
Having access to top tier postural exercises that you can do for yourself is a primary advantage of using the ELDOA method.
What Are The Benefits To The ELDOA Method?
The ELDOA method has an extremely wide array of benefits in both self-administration as well as clinical application. Here are a few of the major benefits seen via this method:
- Improved Posture
- Improved Postural Awareness
- Improvement in joint mechanics
- Improved strength
- Reduced Pain
ELDOA is a also a great method to supplement into physical therapy or clinical rehabilitation. Some of the major benefits for clinical application include:
- Positions/postures can be used diagnostically in order to determine dynamic fascial mobility for specific spinal segments or fascial chains
- Strengthening secondary to end range eccentrics and isometrics
- Supplement to commonly used postural exercises such as dead bug or bird-dog
- Spinal segment specific fascial stretching
- Muscle specific fascial stretching
Commonly Treated impairments with good outcomes in clinical rehabilitation include:
- Forward head posture
- Increased thoracic kyphosis
- Increased lordosis
- Decreased posterior chain proprioception
- Decreased posterior chain tissue extensibility
- Decreased posterior chain strength
How To Start Applying ELDOA To Your Routine
As with anything we fitness, hungry minded folks do; we have selected the best band for your buck ELDOA drills for your immediate benefit. Applying an ELDOA into your must do, daily mobility should start and end with addressing health spine movement.
The ELDOA method isn’t only for improving mobility throughout the day, but a very powerful warm up/cool down movement drill that can really improve your mind-muscle connection for lifting.
Thoracic Spine T6-T7 ELDOA Stretch: Overhead Warm Up
The ELDOA stretch for the T spine is truly the most universal of all the drills as its applicability can be seen across spectrum of upper and lower body requirements for healthy movement. Consider that the T spine’s role as a key stone set of segments for the two lordotic curves providing a direct means of reducing shear forces by mechanically centering the body’s center of mass.
This first ELDOA will specifically address the spine junction between T6 and T7 (the 6th and 7th vertebra). This segment is a commonly the source of reduced muscle and joint compliance into extension due to increased demands to maintain high resting levels of muscle tone as a result of overusing a forward head posture. In many cases the forward head posture for both upper and lower dominant athletes is a source of increased shoulder and hip strain secondary to altering the shoulder and pelvic girdles posture.
- Each Rep is held for 10 to 30 seconds and best performed with diaphragmatic breaths.
- Perform 4 to 6 sets of 10 Reps throughout the day with a single set at minimum.
Warm Up: 2 Sets
- Foam roller T spine 30 – 60 Seconds
- Open Book 10 Reps per side
- Cat Camel with side bend 10 Reps
- Childs pose with side bend 10 Reps
- T spine T6/T7 ELDOA 5 Reps, 5 second hold
- Quadruped Press up 10 Reps
- Prone PVC Warm up 10 Reps
Lumbar Spine L5-S1 ELDOA Stretch: Pre Deadlift & Squat
The ELDOA stretch for the Lumbar Spine offers much benefit for the athletic population directly due to its self-application. The quick ability to gain relief and independence from the need of drugs or gimmicky traction tables; when an ELDOA is performed correctly it will also provide your insight into the internal potential you have to create change through posture.
This Lumbar ELDOA is focused on the lowest moveable segment of the spine, the L5-S1 segment. It is at this segment where humans in general, experience the largest shear (combined forces of compression through the muscles, and gliding due to lack of control that lead to shear).
Shear forces are what directly play a role with aging of the intervertebral discs. It is quite common to find “degeneration” of a disc with bulging, as early as age 30 which most of the time does not lead to pain. Due to the hydrostatic property of our intervertebral discs, the pistoning action of loading and unloading we know to be healthy.
The application of the Lumbar ELDOA can be implemented as part of a daily routine or a warm up/cool down.
Warm Up: 2 Sets
- Foam roll Lower Leg 30-60 seconds
- Lumbar spine L5/S1 ELDOA 5 Reps, 5 Second Hold
- Posterior Chain Warm Up Circuit 10 Reps per movement
Cervical Spine C6-C7 Beginner ELDOA: General Prep
Recovery is tied into progressing your fitness goals and this means understanding total daily and weekly demands. We can all agree that rest is required to progress and our neck is no different of a body part that gets used daily.
With our cell phones getting bigger, and more demands being placed on our attention to a screen, it is common to develop aches and pains through the base of the skull and upper traps. These pains many times lead to over the counter drugs and even prescription drug use which teach us little and treat or correct nothing. Given, that there are true migraine suffers out there who rely on prescription drugs to help them, the more common complaint of a headache that is not associated with auditory/visual/olfactory/taste disturbances is often the result of cervicogenic pain. This type of pain is no different than what could be experienced from overusing a muscle group.
Examples of good intentioned overuse:
- The mechanics who works overhead, training shoulder twice a week.
- The Cook who works slouched over and face down preparing food who trains abs 4 times a week.
- The Factory worker who pushes/pulls heavy supply carts training chest and back 3 days a week.
Each of these examples are ways that overuse creeps into our training which is why individualized programming and diet are often so context based to truly see results or to treat pain.
The Cervical spine ELDOA beginner method is once such place to start making a difference towards reliving pain but also preventing it all together. The ELDOA in this case can be applied throughout the day with very little need to lay on the ground, as standing/sitting version can be performed just about anywhere except while driving your car; a parked car is a different story (come on people).
Now, if you experience regular neck/upper trap muscle cramps during training such as when benching/shoulder pressing, then include this ELDOA and active neck pain free ROM prior to lifting as part of your warm up. I know we are all strapped for time but it will honestly take longer to bring down cramp and then deal with the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) than just warming up your neck.
- C spine C6/C7 ELDOA
It is important to understand that movement is quite variable and context based between how we explore the world around us, and adapt from it. Finding a qualified movement specialist who understands your demands is far greater than finding a physician who will write you prescription for pain meds. Be proactive to be productive. This is Dr. Novo from The Lifters Clinic and Dr. Ramirez from Miami Youth Fitness signing off.
About The Author
Dr. Mario Novo is a results driven sports orthopedic physical therapist who specializes in strength and conditioning. Mario currently resides in middle Tennessee where he plans on integrating his skills and knowledge in resistance exercise and rehab to empower and inspire those individuals ready to make a change in their lives through health and fitness. He is also the owner of TheLiftersClinic.com, an integrated platform of strength training and physical therapy.
Dr. Daniel Ramirez, DPT, PT, CSCS embodies the hybrid philosophy of elite level strength and conditioning, along with the injury prevention and rehabilitative nature of physical therapy. Daniel is the owner of Miami Youth Fitness, which is founded on the philosophy that all individuals have athletic potential, which can be optimally developed during their adolescent years. Daniel currently resides in California where he is completing a sports physical therapy residency program at Los Gatos Orthopedic Sports Therapy, under the mentorship of Ross Nakaji, PT, OCS, SCS, ATC, CSCS.